Save the Skyway Bridge!
Save the Skyway Bridge!
We are opposed to tearing down the Skyway Bridge and replacing it with new bridges and roads through our communities.
Don’t add to environmental injustice. The Skyway removal proposal involves building an expensive new 4-lane, 3.4 mile highway or boulevard, with multiple new bridges. Depending on the alternative chosen, the speed limit would be 55 mph (highway) or 40 mph (boulevard). This new highway/boulevard will bring traffic and pollution to residential neighborhoods with high percentages of people with low incomes and people of color, already burdened by environmental racism, high rates of asthma, heart disease, and other conditions exacerbated by air pollution.
Don’t waste public dollars. Demolishing a fully functional, recently repaired bridge and building a new highway/boulevard and bridges is wasteful of public dollars. The State’s Scoping Plan estimates the cost at $600 million. That may be an underestimate: the State’s Plausibility Review in 2014 estimated the total cost of removing the Skyway and doing all the traffic mitigation necessary at between $1.26 billion and $1.38 billion. What return will we get on our investment? According to the state's own Plausibility Review, “The viability and value of economic development enabled by removal of the Skyway is considered to be relatively minor and inconsequential to the local economy.”
Don’t harm the environment. The proposed highway/boulevard is immediately adjacent to Tifft Nature Preserve. Demolition and disposal of a big bridge is a highly polluting process, as is extracting, shipping, and using raw materials to build a new highway/boulevard and two new bridges. Construction of the new highway/boulevard will impact 8 to 10 acres of wetland and at least 16 rare, threatened, or endangered species.
Focus on the community’s real priorities. No group of citizens has ever asked for the Skyway’s removal. Meanwhile, the State has not yet addressed the infrastructure needs that residents have demanded for many years:
- restoring Humboldt Parkway to undo the racial injustice and destruction of Olmsted’s vision caused by Route 33, as advocated by the Restore Our Community Coalition.
- improving safety, access to parkland, neighborhood connectivity, air quality, and bicycle and pedestrian access to Route 198, as advocated by the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition.
- If the goal is improved access to the Outer Harbor, a much better approach is restoring the Michigan Street Bridge to support waterfront access from the African American Heritage Corridor, while also improving and encouraging use of public transit, rail, bicycling, and walking, as many groups, such as Citizens for Regional Transit and GoBike have long championed.
Don’t impose more traffic delays without a good reason. Major road projects such as this usually impose major costs in terms of traffic delays which increase pollution, waste residents’ time, and hurt their quality of life. The average daily use of Skyway is 45,000 vehicles, and the project is expected to take 3 years.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The Skyway Bridge does not tear up communities, parks, and nature the way Routes 33 and 198 currently do. We need a bridge over Buffalo River, and this is a straightforward one with a fairly minimal footprint, disrupting no residential neighborhoods. It does not impede use of the Outer Harbor for nature and recreation. The ramps to Route 190 that impede circulation downtown could be removed without removing the Skyway.
Choose a better way. Let’s focus public dollars on the community’s real priorities, such as Route 33 and Route 198, as well as mass transit. The Skyway is an elegant bridge that allows us to cross the water, and does not impede public uses underneath it, such as the restored historic cobblestone streets, the replica historic bow string bridge, a park and picnic areas, and the Commercial Slip extension which is used for ice skating all winter long. The Skyway can be reimagined with a lighter, quicker, cheaper approach:
- Create summer hours for bicycles and pedestrians.
- Close the southbound half of the Skyway to cars and trucks from 12 pm to 5pm every Sunday in the summer.
- Close the Skyway to vehicles each Fourth of July for a fireworks viewing event.
- Commission new public art, making use of the structure itself and the spaces it creates.
- Innovate new programming for the spaces beneath it, as done in Toronto and many other cities (for example, skating and biking trails, performance spaces, etc.)
- Discuss the possibility of making the Skyway a local boulevard by lowering the speed limit to 30 mph like other city streets, and eliminating the 190 North exit ramp, freeing up new real estate downtown.
Regional infrastructure projects should meet transportation, economic, ecological, and justice goals for all citizens. Save Buffalo's Skyway Bridge!
NOTE: Donations to this link go to Change.org, not Skyway Club.